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Barefoot running

Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:21 am UTC
by psykx
Is barefoot running a fad, or something genuinely cool?

My work is doing a 10k run, I haven't run for years and so I need new shoes, do I go for the vibram 5 finger things?

Re: Barefoot running

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 7:34 pm UTC
by diabolo
psykx wrote:Is barefoot running a fad, or something genuinely cool?

Barefoot running might (possibly, maybe, in the right light, conditions may apply) be better for your spirit as you'll feel more connected to the ground and whatnot, and for your body as it encourages better form.
I'm not sure about the spiritual need to connect to the Earth, but when it comes to the body the main argument for barefoot running is :
Running shoes are trying to solve a problem they created themselves. The technology (support/cushioning/...) makes it easier for you, which is good, but letting you get away with too much stuff might let your legs/feet get lazy/weak and get bad habits, and then it's not good anymore (and you need more technology to fix it) .
From what I've read online so far, there is no scientific evidence either way as to what is better.

Running barefoot would make you run in a way that's easier on your joints if done right, but without cushioning from the shoes you'd have to handle the shock absorption yourself (mostly with your lower legs).

So... running barefoot is right but running with shoes is easier? running with shoes and proper form is best?

Disclaimer: my summary is definitely simplified, probably questionable, and possibly wrong. You can find pages and pages of debate online and make your own opinion.


psykx wrote:My work is doing a 10k run, I haven't run for years and so I need new shoes, do I go for the vibram 5 finger things?

Whatever you choose take it easy, train and don't jump to straight to 10k.
Vibram Five Fingers are not the only option if you want "minimalist" shoes (i.e. you can get shoes with the same features except for the individual toes).

Re: Barefoot running

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:54 am UTC
by natraj
i have vibrams that i used when i ran tough mudder. after a decade and a half of distance running in regular running shoes it was definitely an adjustment; i had to start off with just a mile and then work back up from there or my feet would kill me. i don't know if they are better or worse in terms of helping with anything at all but they FEEL really good in terms of weight! or, lack thereof.

i absolutely cannot use them if i am running on pavement, though, so there is that; i do a lot of crosscountry distance running on grass and dirt but the impact on concrete or asphalt with such thin soles does not make my feet happy. then again, i rarely run on pavement no matter what i'm running in; i've just found it even less pleasant in minimalist shoes.

Re: Barefoot running

Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:00 pm UTC
by Save Point
A while back I was looking into barefoot running. Rather than taking the full plunge, I ended up getting some minimalist shoes. Specifically, Pearl Izumis Streak II.

I love them.

It's like running in a fortified sock. The "clunk" and extra weight on my feet I used to feel is gone, but it's still basically in the form of a shoe, to which I've grown accustomed and was glad I could keep. I've recommended to them to everyone as I feel they're a nice medium, particularly because I used to get really bad foot pain after about of year of shoe use back when I used New Balance cross trainers. Now I don't.

Obvious caution is that you really have to ease into it. The woman who sold me my shoes told me as much and I interpreted that to mean "5 miles not 9" when it really means "no more than 2 miles for the first few runs." The days after that initial run were super painful just because I was stupid, but other than that, I'd highly recommend looking into, at least, some minimalist shoes.

Another plus is that I haven't run them into the ground. For some reason these are more durable - or maybe there's just less of it to beat down. I don't know. Go out and try a few on and see if anything strikes you as something you might like to try out. Most running stores have in-store treadmills if you're genuinely skeptical.

As for Vibrams, I've never used them. I don't know anyone who sings their praises that isn't generally a bit of a trendy Nancy boy, to be frank. I tend to think minimalist achieves what most people who begin considering barefoot running are looking for, and if you really want to bear down after that, then look into full-on barefoot.

Re: Barefoot running

Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:12 pm UTC
by Izawwlgood
So, Dan Lieberman came and gave a lecture at my department about two months ago, and I had the pleasure of eating lunch with him;
1 ) There's pretty compelling evidence that it's a lower impact means of running. However, the transition basically translates to more ankle injuries instead of more knee injuries, so, pick your poison.
2 ) I personally find barefoot running to be hard, as I've worn New Balance 990s for about 15 years of running now, but can absolutely pull off a higher top speed and maintain a smoother stride with minimal soled shoes.

So, I dunno, train for it, make your own call.

Re: Barefoot running

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:34 pm UTC
by PictureSarah
My old supervisor is a minimalist/barefoot runner, and last year successfully completed the Western States 100-mile Endurance Race in 26 hours. He basically thinks that working against how we evolved is not helpful, i.e. putting your feet at an unnatural incline. His theory is also that it forces you to run more lightly so that you don't kill your feet, which helps prevent injury.